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RE: Music Notation on the Web

From: Cutler, Roger (RogerCutler) <RogerCutler@chevron.com>
Date: Sat, 11 Dec 2010 17:55:43 -0600
Message-ID: <74D099405487FD48AEBE947AC287EB725C8B0E@HOU150NTXC16M.hou150.chevrontexaco.net>
To: "Tom White (MMA)" <lists@midi.org>, <public-xg-audio@w3.org>
As Mr. Berkovitz says, Midi is pure performance data for electronic
instruments.  Quoting from Wikipedia, "it sends event messages
<http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Event_message&action=edit&red
link=1>  about pitch <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitch_(music)>  and
intensity, control signals for parameters such as volume, vibrato
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vibrato>  and panning
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panning_(audio)> , cues
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cue_(theatrical)> , and clock signals to
set the tempo <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempo> ."  That's very
different from a music score and serves a different purpose.

 

From: public-xg-audio-request@w3.org
[mailto:public-xg-audio-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Tom White (MMA)
Sent: Saturday, December 11, 2010 4:42 PM
To: public-xg-audio@w3.org
Subject: RE: Music Notation on the Web

 

Roger, 

 

You say you are interested in exchanging the "notes in the proper
rhythms" and doing the "formatting in the new environment"... and you
want to "import the notes into Sibelius and Finale and handle the
formatting there".

 

Is there some reason you can't use MIDI?

 

Tom White

MMA

	 

________________________________

	From: public-xg-audio-request@w3.org
[mailto:public-xg-audio-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Cutler, Roger
(RogerCutler)
	Sent: Saturday, December 11, 2010 12:54 PM
	To: Joseph Berkovitz
	Cc: public-xg-audio@w3.org
	Subject: RE: Music Notation on the Web

	I may be demonstrating my ignorance here, but I have not
personally had good experiences with MusicXML.  I recall that I tried to
use this format to transfer some music between Finale and Sibelius (I've
forgotten which way, but probably toward Sibelius) and I had a LOT of
trouble.  The bottom line was that it basically did not work.  It is my
impression that neither Finale nor Sibelius support MusicXML in a very
complete fashion.  I also think (but am not positive) that MusicXML
attempts to model features of the music that are involved with
formatting as well as the content of the music.  In fact, I think, but
am not sure, that this was probably the source of the problems I had
using it.  I would have been perfectly happy to start with a bare bones
version of the music (that is, the notes in the proper rhythms) and do
the formatting in the new environment, but I seem to recall that it
tried to pull across a bunch of very complex stuff associated with
formatting that didn't really work and got in the way of using the
information at all.

	 

	I believe that there are other possible objections to using
MusicXML as a starting point:  

	 

	1.       One of the responses I got at the TPAC was a very
strong opinion, which I initially was skeptical of but eventually found
convincing, that a music representation scheme used on the Web should be
capable of practically supporting use by hand for simple tasks.  ABC is
an example of a markup for music content that has this character.  My
impression is that MusicXML does not in that it is, in all
representations, quite complex and bulky.  Note that the illustration
shown by Hakon Lie at the TPAC of a music notation markup being used in
HTML 5 used ABC.

	2.       My impression (again, perhaps showing my ignorance) is
that the takeup of MusicXML on the Web has been extremely limited.
Certainly none of the sites that I go to in order to get music offer
anything in MusicXML.  The most common offering is a PDF file, which has
obvious limitations.  What I REALLY want is a format that allows me to
import the notes into Sibelius or Finale and handle the formatting
there. 

	3.       I speculate that it might be easier to get
whole-hearted participation from the majors (Finale and Sibelius) - and
my impression is that their implementations of MusicXML are either not
whole-hearted or that it is extremely difficult - if the markup standard
confined itself to the CONTENT of the music and not the formatting.  I
say this because I get the impression that these vendors consider their
competitive advantage to involve formatting AND because I also get the
impression that some of the formatting they do is extremely complex and
difficult to represent as anything but an image.

	 

	In summary, it seem plausible to me that if one looks hard at
the requirements for a Web music notation that there may be no obvious
solution on the ground, or there is that it is not the "obvious"
solutions of either MusicXML or the ISO standard SMDL, which was
suggested as "obvious" by someone else.  And if indeed there is an
"obvious" solution - then what can be done to get people actually to USE
it????

	 

	From: Joseph Berkovitz [mailto:joe@noteflight.com] 
	Sent: Friday, December 10, 2010 8:20 PM
	To: Cutler, Roger (RogerCutler)
	Cc: public-xg-audio@w3.org
	Subject: Re: Music Notation on the Web

	 

	Hi folks,

	 

	As a creator of web-based music notation editing software, I
welcome a discussion on this topic, but with a large caution on its
breadth and depth. Semantic representation of music is such a complex
area that it's very likely to occupy the full bandwidth of any group
that takes up the challenge, and then some. I believe that music
notation, if addressed by the W3C, will almost certainly consume the
full attention of a single XG or WG.  I would of course be very pleased
to participate in the discussion or in groups that spin off.  

	 

	It's also necessary to mention that my fellow Audio XG member
Michael Good has devoted much of his career to successfully developing
and promulgating the MusicXML standard in industry and academia. There
are few people as qualified than Michael to be part of this discussion.
So there are at least two folks on this group with a strong interest,
and there may well be more.

	 

	Now, as Michael stated in his response, that there is already a
widely adopted standard in the notation world, namely MusicXML which his
company Recordare owns. It is the de facto interchange standard today
for most music notation applications.  One might even take the position
that MusicXML's status on the ground in the community is such that a
separate W3C standards effort is unnecessary. Personally, I would not go
that far: my opinion is that a W3C standard for music notation could
possibly be a good thing, but that such a standard would do very well to
look at MusicXML as a starting point (and as a potential ending point
also, in that W3C could bless MusicXML as the standard itself and carry
its evolution forward). Whatever the potential of a new standard might
be, MusicXML reflects a lot of information and wisdom accumulated over
its lifetime and is pretty well burned into the ecosystem today.

	 

	Insofar as this group is concerned, I would very much like to
see the work on the Audio API be completed before commencing a challenge
as substantial as music notation. It would be great to start to discuss
it, but we should all be aware that some of the ratholes will be miles
deep, and the implementation mountain will be miles high. Let me explain
further by way of commenting on a few points from the thread that Roger
just posted:

	 

		Wouldn't it be nice to be able to publish music in a way
that the CONTENT, as opposed to the formatting, could be picked up and
used?  Isn't that kind of in the spirit of the Web?  And isn't it also
kind of in the spirit of the Web to worry about the content before you
start messing around with binary streams and images?

	 

	I share this enthusiasm for representing semantic musical
content on the Web -- it's my mission too, and what my company is all
about. However, it is not the case that binary audio streams are
necessarily a "formatting" of such content, any more than pixels are
necessarily "formatted text".  Audio is a primary medium, much of whose
content can not be derived from semantic notation by either a human or a
machine. Much music is never notated in the first place. Although I am a
musician with a traditional conservatory background, I strongly believe
that supporting pure sound generation on the Web is a valid and
essential musical enterprise in and of itself.  Programmatic audio and
music notation content are complementary, and it's not at all a
cart-before-the-horse situation.

	 

	Furthermore, audio support will help music notation take many
important steps towards becoming a first-class citizen on the web. While
music notation viewing could (with considerable effort) become somewhat
standardized in browsers, music notation editing is likely to remain a
diverse space with many disparate approaches. Any Web-based notation
editor will absolutely require good programmatic audio support in order
to be at all functional (and one of my primary motivations in working
with the Audio group is to allow the Web to support such editors).

	 

		[NOTE - There ARE companies involved with music notation
and publishing, but they are not in the W3C.  I'd really like to reach
out to them and try to involve them in this effort, and I have some
ideas how to make that attractive, or at least how NOT to make it
UNattractive - Roger]

	 

	At least *some* are in the W3C, already ;) 

	 

		Getting support for maths in Web content was similarly
backed by

		centuries of cultural heritage; but that alone wasn't
enough to make

		it a major priority for all browser-makers... [snip]

	 

	The effort involved in properly rendering even a basic subset of
conventional Western music notation is unreasonably large, for a number
of issues that aren't appropriate to go into here.  Music notation has
accreted from centuries' worth of experimentation across various
cultural shifts, shaped by the quirks of human visual cognition. Due to
the implementation effort, I share this concern that browser-makers
might simply ignore this area, unless there's a strong case that music
notation on the Web will have a broad audience comparable to that for
the other modern browser feature sets. 

	 

	On the whole I'd like to see a Web standard for music notation
emerge, when it can do so successfully with strong backing from the
industry and from the W3C.  Development of such a standard would
probably fertilize the software/music ecosystem for a very long time to
come, if the standard achieves a high level of acceptance. Let's just
proceed carefully and thoughtfully, with respect for the effort level
required, and the history of past efforts, and do it right.

	 

	best,

	 

	... .  .    .       Joe

	 

	Joe Berkovitz

	President

	Noteflight LLC

	84 Hamilton St, Cambridge, MA 02139

	phone: +1 978 314 6271

	www.noteflight.com

	 

	 

	 

	 

	 

	 
Received on Saturday, 11 December 2010 23:56:19 UTC

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